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October 26, 2014

Abolishing the ‘Hate Yez E’

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Dr Garrett FitzGerald

When it comes to rankings of public hate figures, Dr Garrett FitzGerald believes the HSE is head injury and dislocated shoulders above the competition.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has kept a steady hand on the pulse of our Accident/Emergency/Corridor/Trolley departments. This organisation has had its members count the number of trolley/chair/floor/jacks people every weekday for the past several years. A great contribution — well done!

The general media believe them and take their figures to be accurate. The HSE used to give its own figures, but lost the credibility battle long ago. These latter figures were compiled in the afternoons in the lull period between the morning chaos and the arrival of evening chaos. The official HSE number-massagers are doing something else with their time now.

A national emergency
Recent announcements by the INMO make very sobering reading. In the four years between 2006 and 2010, cumulative trolley occupancy has worsened by a full 50 per cent; the period since Mary Harney declared the situation a national emergency. The figures are 40 per cent worse than the very best achieved by Harney’s targeted initiatives in 2006/2007.

Our health authorities with responsibility for the ongoing and deteriorating mess are probably indictable on a charge of crimes against humanity. It is clearly their policy to fail. The policy has been spectacularly successful. How else could they allow such a revolting treatment of patients to continue for almost two decades and to become steadily worse as the years go by? For God’s sake, there were 75,000 trolley people in 2010 alone.

The average in recent years is between 50,000 and 60,000.

By a simple reckoning of the very lowest of these figures, it is possible to estimate our ED alumni at 1,800,000. This includes all trolley graduates and the carers who soldiered with them at the front over the past 18 years. Throw in another million persons who are loved ones of the graduates and you have 2,800,000 who would cut the HSE throat without a second thought.

The INMO keeps a steady hand on the pulse of our EDs

While we’re at it, perhaps one can add a few hundred-thousand patients who waited months or years for an outpatient appointment or a bed — often cancelled at virtually no notice. This all brings us to 3,400,000 citizens who hate the guts of the HSE, Harney and the Department of Health — 85 per cent-plus of the citizenry.

Let’s be even more conservative; many of the citizens who have been treated like cattle in the system have graduated several times individually. So, there’s really only about 2.75 million who really, really, really hate yez in the ‘Hate Yez E’. The rest are babies and HSE officials, and you couldn’t be too sure about them.

They hate yez too
Many of the dedicated front-line workers hate yez too. They have been pissing into the gale almost daily for almost two decades. They dread the thought of going into work each day to an atmosphere of panic, disorganisation and a feeling that there is no-one in charge of the tiller. They field the constant barrage of abuse and anger from the patients and relatives.

Every so often, an HSE spokesman is sent out to Prime Time to defend the citadel. This has been going on for years. The need to do this is triggered by the very latest attainment of a new world record for trolley numbers. The defence is always the same; ‘we are taking the matter extremely seriously and we are rolling-out some new half-witted scheme to address the problem going forward year-on-year with a dedicated team targeting the unacceptable situation in a very difficult environment in a less-than-ideal world,’ bs, bs, bs…

Usually, the (new) guy they send out actually believes what he is saying. The last guy, of course, is nowhere to be seen, so it is not known whether he still believes the line of shite he delivered last year — or the guy from the year before or the guys from 2005 to 2009. Even rocket scientists have their breaking point, you know.

Unfriendly fire
It’s way past the time when the HSE should realise that it has lost many of the battles and all of the war. When the organisation was formed, its most adverse problem was the ED/trolley admissions fiasco. Anything it might or did do on many other fronts would count for zilch if it did not fix this problem. It is not possible to win a game with your arse on fire. All we’ve had recently is the addition of more petrol to the gluteal parts.

Dr James Reilly (FG), if elected to government, has promised to get rid of the HSE. Other parties seem to want to keep it; their reasons are best known to themselves — indeed, best kept to themselves. The HSE seems to have attained the status of an Irish bank — a complete failure without any prospect of survival, run into the ground by a bunch of overpaid wafflers and chancers.

What a pity. There was so much promise in the beginning. Its leaders never got to grips with the idea that humane treatment of its sickest patients should have been a high priority. In this, its most important function, it has been a spectacular failure.

And for this failure, almost everyone in the country hates it. Thoughts of FF, PDs, landlords’ agents and the dodo bird flood into the mind.

For God’s sake, go!